Home > What We Do > Income Generation & Livelihoods

Misean Cara supports the aim of the Millennium Development Goals to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for everyone.

Bricklaying student Bongani Sibiva of the Mercy Sisters Skills Training Centre in Winterveldt, South Africa. Photo by Jean Curran.

Bricklaying student Bongani Sibiva of the Mercy Sisters Skills Training Centre in Winterveldt, South Africa. Photo by Jean Curran.

Livelihoods are the ways people make a living, including how they distribute their productive resources and the types of activities in which they are engaged. The Brundtland Commission in 1987 introduced sustainable livelihoods in terms of resources ownership, access to basic needs and livelihood security.

The Department for International Development (DFID) in the UK defines a sustainable livelihood as: “A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.’’

Our members address poverty by improving livelihoods and ensuring that people’s workplace rights are upheld.

The Sustainable Livelihoods approach is a holistic and flexible framework for understanding, measuring, and analysing poverty and poverty alleviation. Unlike many traditional models which measure poverty by a single factor like low income, a Sustainable Livelihoods approach takes into account a variety of economic, social, political, and ecological factors that impact a person’s ability to sustain a livelihood.

The guiding principles of the sustainable livelihoods approach are:

  • Be people-centred. SLA begins by analysing people’s livelihoods and how they change over time. The people themselves actively participate throughout the project cycle.
  • Be holistic. SLA acknowledges that people adopt many strategies to secure their livelihoods, and that many actors are involved; for example the private sector, ministries, community-based organizations and international organizations.
  • Be dynamic. SLA seeks to understand the dynamic nature of livelihoods and what influences them.
  • Build on strengths. SLA builds on people’s perceived strengths and opportunities rather than focusing on their problems and needs. It supports existing livelihood strategies.
  • Promote micro-macro links. SLA examines the influence of policies and institutions on livelihood options and highlights the need for policies to be informed by insights from the local level and by the priorities of the poor.
  • Encourage broad partnerships. SLA counts on broad partnerships drawing on both the public and private sectors.
  • Aim for sustainability. Sustainability is important if poverty reduction is to be lasting.

Background to Misean Cara’s support for Income Generating Activities and Livelihoods projects

Transforming the lives of the marginalised and most vulnerable people in the developing world is the long-term vision of Misean Cara and its members.

The Misean Cara Strategic Plan 2013-2016 provides the policy framework for support to all development initiatives, and contains a specific objective on education. It commits Misean Cara to:

Support high quality income-generation and livelihoods initiatives:

  •  Fund income generating and micro finance initiatives to support those who cannot access such support and assistance elsewhere.
  •  Support urban community development with a particular emphasis on marginalized people.
  •  Support rural development initiatives targeted at people and communities functioning at very low subsistence levels.
  •  Prioritize efforts and initiatives aimed at tackling the root and structural causes of poverty, vulnerability, marginalisation and injustice relating to people’s access to livelihoods and income generating opportunities.
  •  The Strategic Plan also sets out a number of Strategic Imperatives, which can be interpreted as setting some of the criteria for funding of IGA/Livelihoods projects.

These imperatives highlight the following:

  • the quality and impact of the development work;
  • work that can make a significant positive difference to the lives of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised;
  • leveraging the particular strengths of missionary development work where others do not provide them;
  • working with a holistic approach attending to all the needs of the person;
  • the long term commitment to living with communities;
  • support to initiatives that address the structural causes of poverty, vulnerability and marginalisation;
  • development initiatives that are relevant and reflect local priorities, approaches and solutions as expressed by beneficiaries through participatory consultation;
  • sustainability of development initiatives;
  • demonstrating results and ensuring that work is undertaken according to best international practice.